Epidemic of children with preventable illnesses reported 4


Girl Brushing Teeth

Warnings from the Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool of an epidemic of children having wholly preventable illnesses form the basis of tonight’s BBC1 Panorama documentary “Spoilt Rotten”.

This harsh reality was surmised by Alder Hey’s medical director, Dr Steve Ryan, who suggested that “people are starting to say maybe this is a generation where children will be dying before their parents”.

That horrendous thought is based on medical statistics from the hospital:



  • Over half of the 1,000 annual dental operations are on children under the age of six, often with severe, preventable tooth decay.
  • Up to 1,000 children each year are admitted to hospital because of the effects of their parents’ passive smoking.
  • Obesity rates in both children and adults is increasing rapidly, up from 5,056 in 2007-087 to 8,085 for 2008-09.

Dr Ryan continued, “I think that we’ve never been here before. We’ve never faced this epidemic. It didn’t happen in history. There were cholera epidemics, measles epidemics, whooping cough epidemics…(this) is subtle. It is in the background. But it’s massive.”

The Panorama programme can be seen tonight (Tuesday 13 April) at 9pm, or alternatively on BBC iPlayer.


4 thoughts on “Epidemic of children with preventable illnesses reported

  • Richard

    This programme is part of a reputation building exercise by Alder Hey children’s hospital that we all remember was at the centre of the organ retention scandal between 1988 and 1995 – they were illegally extracting organs, without permission from their parents, from children who had died in the hospital. They were also secretely selling thyroid glans they had removed from patients to a pharmaceutical company. Up until this point, the hosptial was considered to be a world class children’s hospital.

    In the circumstances I think the hosptial should just get on with the job treating people and stop moaning about their patients and holding them up to ridicule and comment as part of a TV documentary. The patients who were attacked in the programme, very sportingly did not mention the scandal which I thought was very restrained of them and it is a shame that the hospital did not show the same level of restraint.

  • Andy

    I didn’t see the programme so I can’t comment on its content (I will try to catch it on iPlayer before it expires). If the patients were handled poorly then it’s unfortunate, though surely some of the blame for that could lie with the BBC Panorama team.

    Perhaps the programme was different, but the news article I read was not ridiculing patients. Instead, it was highlighting some of the growing problems associated with childhood health.

    Hospitals should “get on with the job” regardless. There have been a number of problems in a number of hospitals, including Great Ormond Street. The organ scandal itself was not limited to Alder Hey hospital.

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